By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Construction of four 42-storey skyscrapers, set to be the tallest buildings in Macedonia, started on Monday in Skopje.
The Turkish company, Cevahir Holding, plans to invest some 300 million euro in the project that should be completed within three years in the Skopje municipality of Aerodrom.
The complex will hold a mix of residential, business and retail areas, with some 1,400 flats providing homes for 5,000 people, and a large shopping mall in the base of the towers.
“We managed to persuade the company to invest thanks to our low taxes, favourable construction land price and simple administrative procedures,” Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony, said.
At a time of financial crisis, it is expected to be the largest single foreign investment in the country this year.
Authorities hope it will keep the flagship construction industry going, as demand for work abroad tails off.
“This complex will contribute to the modernization of Skopje and Macedonia and to the country’s development in times of global crisis,” the Turkish Ambassador, Gurol Sokmensuer, said.
The government hopes that the new buildings will help lower the price of housing in the capital by increasing the amount on offer.
Despite the crisis, real estate prices in Skopje have remained comparatively expensive at around 1,000 euro per square meter.
Standing 130 metres high each, the towers will be the tallest in the country, topping the 25-floor, 90-metre high building of Macedonian Radio Television, which dominates the skyline in central Skopje.
Cevahir Holding is one of Turkey’s biggest companies. Its main fields of activity include investment, tourism and construction.
Although political ties have long been good, it was only in the last few years that Turkish companies have significantly invested in Macedonia.
In 2010, Turkey’s TAV won a 20-year contract to run Macedonia’s two airports in Skopje and in Ohrid and invested over 100 million euro in improving airport infrastructure.
Earlier this year, the Turkish firm Limak holding purchased a large construction site in central Skopje, planned for business and commercial buildings.
As part of the contract, the company is obliged to build a kilometre-long boulevard underpass in the city’s central area.
The Balkan Insight (forner the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes.
BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention.
Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.